Gallimaufry: Your Questions, Some Answers, Media and Just Stuff

gallimaufryLast summer I came upon this great word – a word I had never heard before, but which can be used in so many aspects of conversation and life! The word is “gallimaufry.”? It means a hodgepodge, a jumble, or confused medley of things – items, ideas, anything at all.

It’s a great word for an advocacy entrepreneur! It describes the many ideas that come together to define challenges and create solutions, or the many activities it takes to achieve success, or even the creative approaches it takes to help our clients, or help each other. I’ve even adopted the word for one section of my private blog.

And – it describes today’s post, which is a gallimaufry of information for you, inspired by a number of things: current APHA activities, last week’s survey which asks you to help us determine topics and locations for our 2015 APHA advocacy business workshops, the time of year, current events – yes, a real hodgepodge, jumble or confused medley. (Why not?)

So here you go – today’s gallimaufry:

> We’ll begin with an announcement that APHA has a new legal advisor on board. Steven P. Okey, Esq (Steve) is stepping in while Dalia Al-Othman, who has served in that role for almost three years, takes a hiatus. Steve is an active and knowledgeable patient advocate who has based his work on his decades-long law career plus his experiences with his own family. He can advise on matters relating to the law, policies, contracts and more. You can find more about Steve’s advocacy work at Ohio Patient Advocates, and about his role with APHA here. (Many thanks to Dalia for her years of service… and Welcome Steve!)

> In the same advisor vein, Rick Pugach, APHA’s Medical Claims and Billing Advisor (who also recently stepped into those shoes) – has updated the FAQs about medical billing and claims on the APHA website. Find them by logging in to your dashboard, and linking to the Client Services Center.

> An article in the NY Times this week pinpoints perhaps the most important reason we advocates exist for our clients. That is: that the healthcare system has, now, even more incentives for NOT supplying patients with what they need. This one is worthy of printing out, blogging, adding to a newsletter, or somehow supplying to every potential client you have. How Medical Care is Being Corrupted

> An article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution outlines the value of private advocacy. APHA Member Cindi Gatton is featured and the Alliance is mentioned, too. Unfortunately, the article is behind a paywall. If anyone would like a copy, yes, I ponied up the 99 cents and can send you a copy. (Seems ridiculous – probably cost them more to process my credit card than the 99 cents they charged me!)

> A report from a member reminds us not to download attachments from email or files from websites without being very very sure they are exactly what they are supposed to be, and not a nefarious attempt at giving your computer a virus. She mistakenly downloaded ransomware – a virus that hijacks your computer and threatens to erase your files unless you call an 800 number and provide your credit card number. I’ve posted details, and ways to prevent such a problem in the APHA Forum.

> We’re in the midst of surveying interested parties about locations and topics as we plan for our 2015 APHA Workshops. (It’s still open for a few more days – if you haven’t taken the survey yet, please do!)? Great results so far with city front runners being Boston, Washington, DC and San Francisco.

Many questions were asked in the comments area of the survey. Since the survey does not ask for names or contact information (meaning, i can’t reply individually), I’ll answer those questions here. (If more questions pop up before we close the survey, I’ll add them to this list.)

Q: What are the requirements for licensing or education for starting an advocacy business?
A: As of this date, there are no requirements whatsoever. Anyone can hang out their advocacy shingle. (That doesn’t mean they should – or that they have the knowledge and ability to be successful – but for now there are no restrictions or requirements.)? Learn more: The Myth of Patient Advocacy Certification

Q: What knowledge and experience make a good advocate? And – Attending Patient Navigator/Advocacy Schools – where are they?
A: Find all the educational opportunities we are aware of here: Health Advocate Programs  Included is a link to an article about figuring out what education you need.

Q: What is the most affordable insurance for my practice? Right now I just use an agreement to protect them and me.
A: It won’t be a signature on a contract that protects you. Anyone can sue you for any reason, even if you did nothing wrong, you can be sued based on someone’s perception, and it’s going to cost you and arm and a leg whether you win or lose the suit. The right insurance will pay out to cover any financial damages you incur from such a suit.
There are only 2-3 companies in the US we are aware of (and 2-3 companies in Canada, too) that will even provide insurance to advocates for professional liability or errors & omissions. We make that information available on the APHA website for members only. If you don’t belong to APHA, you can join for only $49 and save yourself a lot of grief trying to figure it all out.

Q: Consider collaborating with NAHAC events.
A: We have collaborated with NAHAC for their past three conferences. We’ve held workshop sessions just prior to the conference, in the same hotel, the day before. We have invited NAHAC members to participate in APHA Expert Call-ins, and vice versa. Both organizations are committed to supporting each other because we know that each organization offers different kinds of important support to our many members.

Q: I’m a hospital advocate and I can’t find anything here for me.
A: That’s because APHA and our workshops are focused on the business of private advocacy. There are other organizations and educational groups that focus on hospital advocacy. We don’t step on their toes; instead we focus on our core mission: providing support for private, professional advocacy. The difference, of course, is who provides the paycheck. Learn more about the Allegiance Factor.

Q: So many people need me and want me to work for free. How can I do that and build my business, too?
A: You can’t – at least not as you are getting started.
While working for clients pro bono is laudable, and I hope everyone gets to do so eventually, you cannot start and grow a business while simply giving away your services for free. Every hour you spend helping someone for no pay is a paid hour you have lost, or marketing time you have lost. Better to put all your efforts in the first few years into performing paid work, or marketing for paid work. Once you are comfortably earning a living, on your feet and thriving, you can begin to donate a portion of your time to those who could not otherwise afford your services.

And finally – tis the season! Yes, the end-of-the-year holiday season is upon us.

So – two things for you here: First, consider using the season for some good marketing outreach (directions found here!) And…

A very happy and safe Thanksgiving to you and your family. I hope your Thanksgiving table holds a gallimaufry of wonderful gastronomical delights.

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